Archive for the ‘resilience’ Category

Quite a storm at the moment, here’s our current weather forecast:

400 AM AKST SAT NOV 14 2009

Power went out around 7:30am, so decided to go tour the area. The entire town is in the dark. A power boat had broken loose in Aurora harbour and driven by the gale had pinned an also loose sailboat to the breakwater. Found a small leak at one window frame, and the cover to the stack from the boiler blew off – retrieved for safekeeping until things are calmer. Mother nature at her most powerful. Reminds me of my childhood in Oban, Scotland – same latitude, same storms.

Power came back on at 8:30am, good job AEL&P. Be interesting to find out what was the cause, and if the additional power from the new Lake Dorothy power station reduced the need to use backup diesel generators.

After watching 60 Minutes last Sunday on Sabotaging the System about the potential for hackers to get into computer systems that run crucial elements of the world’s infrastructure, such as the power grids, water works, etc., very thankful to be “off the grid” and reliant on hydro power which, given the amount of rainfall here, is a renewable resource.

No hot tub this morning – how fortunate I am to have this as my only complaint.  The World Food Program states that, for the first time, a billion people are hungry and without food security. It has launched a campaign – a billion for a billion – to help raise funds for the starving.

Even though I believe that feeding hungry people is simply keeping them alive until the next crisis, and that such crises are nature’s way of controlling the human population explosion, from a humanitarian perspective how can one not contribute without being callous? The human dilemma: we can control neither our exploding population nor its consequences. Pass the word…… [Note: I earmarked my donations to “provide meals to more school children, especially girls, thus allowing them to stay in school.” It’s my belief that the best way to control population is by educating girls – not to mention ameliorating the over-abundance of testosterone that has produced our present climate of global violence.]

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We’ve had two sets of visitors for a day, each, while their respective cruise ships docked briefly in Juneau. Thoroughly enjoyed showing Juneau to them on a driving tour (it rained). Warms our hearts to talk about our final home – it’s a year to the day since we arrived off the ferry. They ask why on earth would we live here – and we say “the terrific sense of community, the phenomenal and vibrant cultural life, the awe-inspiring scenery, the number of great hiking trails, the ease of walking everywhere, the great library, and the lack of traffic and malls.”

Here are a couple of examples of why Alaskans are different:

Three months ago a deliberately started fire in an apartment on Basin Road jumped to the neighboring pink house, a local landmark, and completely gutted it. The response of the Juneau community to help the pink house family is remarkable. Read about it on the Pink House blog, and please send them some cash – every little bit helps. One of our grandkid’s friends, 9-yr old Ezra a neighbor of the pink house, raised $2,500 through his lemonade stand.  Yesterday, the house was torn down, and with assistance and donations the family hopes to be able to rebuild.

A pair of Alaskans from Seldovia are creating a new website, Alaska’s Wild Resource Web. You can read more about them on their blog, and
pre-order their book Journey on the Wild Coast: Four thousand miles along the edge of the Pacific, by foot, packraft, and skis. They’re devoted to communicating about the environmental issues facing this region.

If you haven’t made plans to visit, get going…..

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Forgot to do a new post last week.

I spent it in a week-long workshop put on by the Grantsmanship Center, Inc. Very useful content and process for public and non-profit entities. Thoroughly enjoyed meeting others from around Alaska.  Among our 26 participants, were 10 native Alaskans so it was a great cultural exchange. Three flew in from the isolated (half-way down the Aleutian chain) community of  Sand Point to work on a proposal to secure funding for a cold-weather greenhouse (to be heated by wind-power) that would raise some local produce for Sand Point’s 950 residents. Right now, all food comes in by barge (takes 6 weeks to get there) and half of it is borderline or rotten on arrival.  Cabbage, e.g., costs $8-$10 per head.

Other participants came in from Ketchikan, Sitka, Hydaburg, Larsen Bay, Anchorage,  and Dillingham to join the rest of us from Juneau. I enjoyed looking up their locations in our Alaska map bible from DeLorme.  If you follow those place-name links you’ll get a flavor of the diverse makeup of communities across our vast, wonderful state.

Then on Wednesday, at 6am we took our dear ones next door to the airport for a 10-day rest and relaxation time on the Oregon coast, collected their 2 dogs to stay with us, and then down to the  dock to spend half-a-dozen hours with Bill’s brother and sister-in-law while their cruise ship was in Juneau. Enjoyed taking them on a tour of our town, opened their eyes a bit I think.  [I think they were expecting red-necky uncouthedness instead of our beautiful little cultural capital.]

Friday evening to the Canvas for a Marimba concert by Zimbabwean musician Paul Mataruse and his band Ruzivo from Whidbey Island, WA.

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I’ve thought for some time that humans might be in the process of diverging into two species. The recent increasingly ugly fight over health care policy (money versus the common good)  illustrates what I think is happening. Please bear with me as I try to explain this.

First, listen to Al Gore: “The politics of fear, secrecy, cronyism, and blind faith has combined with the degradation of the public sphere to create an environment dangerously hostile to reason.”

Second, note the many pointers suggesting  we are at the brink of some kind of massive change involving both the Earth and humanity – not to mention all other affected beings on our planet. Just the kind of times at which rapid evolutionary changes occur.

Third, it seems likely that human beings inherit a set of genes that predisposes them to believe in a higher power – an evolutionary advantage that helped overcome the terrifying fear arising from the conscious awareness of our own death. This may no longer be an evolutionary advantage.

Fourth, note what Texas psychologist Clare Graves wrote in a 1974 article titled “Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap.” It describes a new theory explaining human nature as

an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behavior systems to newer, higher-order systems as an individual’s existential problems change. Each successive stage, wave, or level of existence is a state through which people pass on their way to other states of being. When the human is centralized in one state of existence, he or she has a psychology which is particular to that state. His or her feelings, motivations, ethics and values, biochemistry, degree of neurological activation, learning system, belief systems, conception of mental health, ideas as to what mental illness is and how it should be treated, conceptions of and preferences for management, education, economics, and political theory and practice are all appropriate to that state.

The Spiral Dynamics Model of Human DevelopmentTwo of Graves’ students (Don Beck and Chris Cowan) created an approach they named Spiral Dynamics to explain why there is so much conflict in the world:

Individual and cultural development is a process of changing world view, of changing value systems. Each person (or culture) sees the world through a window/filter that matches its stage of development. For most of their development, a person believes that the way they see the world is the way the world is, and people who’re looking through a different window are uninformed, just plain wrong, stupid, or evil. Even though one may think s/he is open-minded, until one reaches higher tiers of the spiral one habitually disregards or discounts information that is out-of-step with one’s current mind set. (To quote Don Beck: “Keep your hands on your knees. Notice when they jerk!”)

It’s a fascinating theory and offers a profoundly incisive, dynamic perspective on complex matters such as:

  • HOW people think about things (as opposed to “what” they think);
  • WHY people make decisions in different ways;
  • WHY different people respond to different motivators; and
  • WHY and HOW values arise and spread;

It seems to me that, under the immense stresses of our times, one branch of humanity is moving steadily up the spiral towards a level of global conscious awareness, and another branch is turning down the spiral towards the kind of magical, instinctive, survivalist thinking that dominated early feudal societies.

It is my opinion that (a) humanity is differentiating into two branches according to world view, and (b) the split is happening at a younger and younger age. Because we tend to self-select breeding mates from those with a similar world view, the likelihood of genetic diversion follows. That is if we don’t exterminate ourselves in the process.

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Can’t believe it’s a month since I last posted.  Time flies, life flies. I’m 70 years old – how much longer do I have?  And how long for Bill?  No way to answer that question except to remember to live and enjoy each moment.  Which means adjusting the old attitude when I don’t like something or what’s happening.  A great skill – learning to notice the old attitude and then shake it into shape as needed.  Story on the Internet triggered this line of thought – Go read it. Boiled down, it’s about a 72-year old longitudinal study of 268 Harvard sophomores that shows three ingredients for a happy life:

  1. Make an outlet for your fears and struggles – join a team, help others, laugh, lighten up.
  2. Be humble, remember you’re no more special than anyone else.
  3. Share yourself with others, give hugs and tell people you love ’em.

Not a bad way to begin the day….

So, on a scale of 1 to 10 I’d say I’m up around 8.  But I still have work to do.  We’ve had three weeks of visitors, and some delicious weather.  Little League has been wonderful.  I’m finally “getting” how to practice effectively at the piano. (Make a note, Pat, need to write about that.)  I’m slowly releasing the stiff and sore from the Australia trip – thanks to that pain I am learning about the Feldenkrais method of body awareness and muscle control. (Make another note…) Jasper is taking sailing lessons – puts me right back in the armchair of wannabe’ness before we went cruising on Callipygia. I took some video of his class yesterday, maybe I’ll make a movie of it. But I’m kind of aimless. I need more structure to my time. So I’ve started looking for a part-time job.  With more to do I should do a better job of fitting the day’s pieces together.

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The wedding went off successfully with a rehearsal gathering Friday night, the event on Saturday, and a family restaurant dinner on Sunday.  The newlyweds are off on their honeymoon for a week while we house sit for them with Dasia, our 13-yr old granddaughter.

I have to say this area gets less and less appealing each time we return.  It bears no resemblance to the pleasant environs I moved to with my young family 36 years ago.  Then:

  • The Beltway was 2 lanes in each direction
  • Rte 50 through Falls Church/Annandale (where we lived) was and easy 1-2 lanes each way with only occasional traffic lights
  • Gallows Rd near our house was a pleasant meandering country road, 1-lane each way
  • The new Tysons Corner mall was only 4 years old.

Alas:  now

  • The Beltway is 4-6 lanes on each side, and under permanent nerve-wracking (re)construction and expansion
  • Rte 50 through Falls Church/Annandale is now 3-5 lanes each way riddled with stop lights
  • Gallows Rd has blasted out sideways to make room for 3-5 lanes in each direction
  • The original Tysons Corner mall has been joined by an even bigger mansion-minded monstrosity across the street

The landscape everywhere is riven with ugly open gashes, construction barriers and detours, mammoth earthmoving equipment.  The once pleasant woodland has been slashed and mangled, the lush meadows butchered and defiled.  Northern Virginia is UGLY.  Not helped by the dismal cloud cover, thick polluted air, and dank chill currently hovering over it.  The whole place feels toxic, the traffic heavy and unending.  Trucks and flashy  cars move and weave without patience or civility, the few pedestrian faces look empty and sad.

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I’m back from Courtenay, BC, after a good visit with Marian. Happy to be able to support her as she faces multiple challenges.

And now, as frequently, the climate is stage center again.

  • I talked to my brother, Sandy, in Lara, south of Melbourne, Australia yesterday.  Victoria (the provincial state) is burning up. Extended drought, high winds, and unbearable heat (117°F) have turned some communities into gigantic bonfires. Meanwhile, the north of the country is in monsoon time – one area in Queensland reported almost a metre of rain in a 24-hour period.
  • An avalanche just south of Juneau yesterday closed the (only) road to the adjacent settlement of Thane, marooning some 30 households.  18′ of snow blocked 300′ of roadway. (more…)

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